Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg, in honor of Nebraska’s 150th birthday, introduced the fifth Nebraska NEST Birthday Baby today at a news conference at the State Capitol.
Olivia Rae Johnson, daughter of Ashley and Wade Johnson of Lincoln, was born March 20 at Bryan Medical Center East. As the latest Nebraska NEST Birthday Baby, she received a $529 contribution to a Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST) college savings account.
Olivia, dressed in a ruffled fuchsia dress and matching headband, is the first baby from Lincoln to be recognized in the State Treasurer’s Nebraska NEST Birthday Babies drawing, a yearlong sweepstakes honoring Nebraska’s 150th birthday celebration. Nebraska NEST Birthday Babies has been designated a Legacy program by the Nebraska 150 Commission.
“We understand the importance of education, and the 529 plan is actually something we wanted to get started for Olivia right away,” said Wade Johnson, vice president of Exchange Bank in Lincoln. “I am a banker here in town and Ashley is a property manager, and with the rising college costs every year, it is important to start saving right away. We want to build to allow Olivia to follow her dreams. We want to thank the State of Nebraska and NEST for $529 to help us get going. What an awesome opportunity.”
Ashley Johnson, who works for U.S. Property in Lincoln, said the family was excited for Olivia to be a Nebraska NEST Birthday Baby. “We are super excited for the contribution so we can start saving for her education and support her hopes and dreams in the future.” Both parents graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with degrees in business administration.
“She’s just gorgeous,” said Regan Anson, executive director of the Nebraska 150 Celebration. Anson said the Sesquicentennial Commission encouraged organizations to support the state’s birthday in ways that were fitting for each of them. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the way the Treasurer’s Office chose to do that. It fits so well with everything we are doing,” she said, noting the impact of the NEST contributions to future generations of Nebraskans.
“Focusing on the next generation of Nebraskans by helping young families save for college is our way to celebrate Nebraska’s 150th birthday. We also want to build awareness of NEST, Nebraska’s excellent state-sponsored 529 college savings program, which now has more than $4.4 billion in assets in more than 250,000 accounts, including 76,000 in Nebraska,” said Treasurer Stenberg, Trustee of NEST.
“I have been asked why $529? The amount seems odd to some. The answer is simple. Our NEST college savings program and other state-sponsored college savings programs like NEST provide significant tax advantages for account owners. Those tax advantages are allowed under Section 529 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code,” Stenberg said.
“Investing in NEST when children are very young benefits families in many ways. Investing early gives families more years to plan and save for college, encourages families to develop regular savings habits, enables families to save more because of compound interest, and provides substantial tax savings for the account owners,” he said.
“Once again, I am happy to offer special congratulations to this month’s NEST 529 birthday baby,” Deborah Goodkin, Managing Director, Savings Plans, First National Bank of Omaha, said in a prepared statement. “Here at NEST 529, we want to help our account owners create and maintain a financial plan to help their children achieve a lifetime of success, both in college and beyond. Investing in their children’s higher education at a young age creates an early foundation for their success. It is never too early to start financial planning for your children.” First National Bank is Program Manager of NEST.
Each month of 2017—to celebrate Nebraska’s 150th birthday—NEST will select a parent or legal guardian of a Nebraska newborn to receive a $529 contribution to a NEST account. The family will be chosen through a random drawing of entries submitted online to the NEST website or by mail.
The first NEST Birthday Baby was Carolyn Hotchkiss, daughter of Christina and Scott Hotchkiss of Omaha. The second Birthday Baby was Elijah Engel, son of Locke Engel and Rebecca Nelms of Waverly. The third was Gable Butt, son of Ivie and Myles Butt of Central City, and the fourth was Kendall Weber, daughter of Jamie and Kevin Weber of Plainview. In all, 12 newborns and their parents or guardians will be recognized throughout the year.
Parents and legal guardians may enter Nebraska NEST Birthday Babies at www.NEST529.com/NewbornDrawing. Entries will be accepted until January 10, 2018, for babies born in calendar year 2017. To allow time for babies born in late December to be entered, the final drawing will take place in early 2018. If a family’s name isn’t drawn in the month the family enters, the name will stay in the drawing throughout the year, giving families plenty of opportunities to be chosen.
Rules for the Nebraska NEST Birthday Babies can be found at www.NEST529.com/NewbornDrawing and treasurer.nebraska.gov/csp/scholarships/. Information about the Nebraska Sesquicentennial can be found at ne150.org.
NEST is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan and provides four plans to help make saving for college simple and affordable: NEST Direct College Savings Plan, the NEST Advisor College Savings Plan, the TD Ameritrade 529 College Savings Plan, and the State Farm College Savings Plan. The Nebraska State Treasurer serves as Program Trustee. First National Bank of Omaha serves as Program Manager, and all investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Families nationwide are saving for college using Nebraska’s 529 College Savings Plans, which have more than 261,000 accounts, including 84,000 in Nebraska. Visit NEST529.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.
About First National Bank of Omaha
First National Bank of Omaha is a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska. First National of Nebraska and its affiliates have more than $21 billion in assets and 5,000 employee associates. Primary banking offices are located in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas.